If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Cisco Firepower NGFW, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
Get your homework done. Get to know in-depth what Cisco can do and compare it with Palo Alto. If you're happy with Cisco, go for it but Palo Alto is the safer choice. I would rate it an eight out of ten.
The biggest lesson I have learned from using this solution is that you can't always trust that console. In the particular case of the traffic which I was used to seeing identified in CTR, not seeing that traffic but knowing that it was actually occurring was a little bit of a concern. It wasn't until we actually put rules in that said "block that traffic" that I started to see the traffic in the console and in the CTR. Overall, my confidence in Cisco as a whole was shaken by that series of events. I have a little bit less trust in the brand, but so far I've been happy with the results. Ultimately we got what we wanted out of it. We expected certain capabilities and we received those capabilities. We may have been early adopters — maybe a little bit too early. If we had waited a little bit, we might've seen more about these SIP issues that weren't just happening to us. They've happened other people as well. The maturity of our company's security implementation is beyond the nascent stage but we're not what I would call fully matured. We're somewhere in the middle. "Fully matured" would be having a lot more automation and response capabilities. At this point, to a large extent, the information security team doesn't even have a grasp on what devices are connected to the network, let alone the ability to stop a new device from being added or quarantined in an automated fashion. From my point of view, posture control from our ISE system, where it would pass the SGTs to the FirePOWER system so that we could do user-based access and also automated quarantining, would go a long way towards our maturity. In the NISK model, we're still at the beginning stages, about a year into the process. Most of our tools have some security element to them. From the Cisco product line, I can think of about ten that are currently deployed. We have a few extras that are not Cisco branded, three or four other items that are vulnerability-scanning or SIEM or machine-learning and automation of threat detection. The stuff that we have licensed includes the AMP for Networks, URL filtering, ITS updates and automation to the rule updates, as well as vulnerability updates that the product provides. Additionally, we have other services that are part of Cisco's threat-centric defense, including Umbrella and AMP for Endpoints. We use Cisco Threat Response, or CTR, to get a big-picture view from all these different services. There's a certain amount of StealthWatch included in the product, as well as some of the other advantages of having the Cisco Talos security intelligence. The integration among these products is definitely better than among the non-Cisco products. It's much better than trying to integrate it with non-Cisco functionality. That is probably by design, by Cisco. Because they can work on both ends of, for example, integrating our AMP for Endpoints into our FirePOWER Management Console, they can troubleshoot from both ends. That probably makes for a better integration whereas, when we're trying to troubleshoot the integration with, say, Microsoft Intune, it's very hard to get Cisco to work together with Microsoft to figure out where the problem is. When you have the same people working on both sides of the equation, it makes it a little easier. Additionally, as our service needs have progressed and the number of products we have from Cisco has increased, they've put us onto a managed security product-support model. When I call in, they don't only know how to work on the product I'm calling in on. Take FMC, for example. They also know how to work on some of those other products that they know we have, such as the Cisco Voice system or Jabber or the WebEx Teams configurations, and some of those integrations as well. So, their troubleshooting doesn't end with the firewall and then they pass us off to another support functionality. On that first call, they usually have in-house resources who are knowledgeable about all those different aspects of the Threat Centric defenses, as well as about routine routing and switching stuff, and some of the hardware knowledge as well. We're a heavy Cisco shop and it helps in troubleshooting things when the person I'm talking to doesn't know only about firewalls. That's been beneficial. It's a newer model that they've been deploying because they do have so many customers with multiple products which they want to work together. In most cases, this number of tools improves our security operations, but recent events indicate that, to a large extent, the tools and their utilization, beyond the people who deployed them, weren't very helpful in identifying and isolating a particular issue that we had recently. Ultimately, it ended up taking Cisco and a TAC case to identify the problems. Even though the security team has all these other tools that they utilize, apparently they don't know how to use them because they weren't able to utilize them to do more than provide info that we already had. We have other vendors' products as well. To a large extent, they're monitoring solutions and they're not really designed to integrate. The functionality which some of these other products provide is usually a replication of a functionality that's already within the Cisco product, but it may or may not be to the extent or capacity that the information security team prefers. My functionality is largely the security hardware and Cisco-related products, and their functionality is more on the monitoring side and providing the policies. From their point of view, they wanted specific products that they prefer for their monitoring. So it wasn't surprising that they found the Cisco products deficient, because they didn't want the Cisco products in the first place. And that's not saying they didn't desire the Cisco benefits. It's just they have their preference. They'd rather see Rapid7's vulnerability scan than ISE's. They'd rather see the connection events from Darktrace rather than relying on the FMC. And I agree, it's a good idea to have two viewpoints into this kind of stuff, especially if there's a disagreement between the two products. It never hurts to have two products doing the same thing if you can afford it. The best thing that can happen is when the two products disagree. You can utilize both products to figure out where the deficiency lies. That's another advantage. For deployment, upgrades, and maintenance, it's just me. We were PIX customers when they were software-based, so we've been using that product line for some time, other than the Meraki MXs that we're using for the branch offices. The Merakis are pretty good firewalls as well. We also have access here at our primary data centers, but they're configured differently and do different things. The MXs we have at our data centers are more about the LAN functionality and the ability to fail from site to site and to take the VPN connections from the branch offices. For remote access VPN, we primarily used the firewalls. For our site-to-site VPNs, we primarily use these firewalls. For our public-facing traffic, or what is traditionally referred to as DMZ traffic, we're primarily relying on these firewalls. So, they have a lot of functionality here at the credit union. Almost all of our internet bound traffic travels through those in some way, unless we're talking about our members' WiFi traffic.
You must know exactly what features are important for you, and how you can manage all this infrastructure in the future. Sometimes you can have a product that is superior but it might demand an increase in manpower to manage all the software or platforms. Another point to consider is how good the integration is between products? You should check what features you need, what features you can have, and the integration with other products. In terms of the maturity of our security implementation, we have had security appliances, software or hardware, for more than 15 years. So we have a long history of using security products. We started using Cisco competitors in the past and we still use them for our headquarters, where I am. Our main firewall is not currently Cisco, although we are in the process of evaluation and we will replace this firewall soon. Cisco is one of the brands being evaluated for that. In the past, while it's not a next-gen firewall, we also used a Cisco product for URL filtering, up until this year. We are moving to the cloud. We are starting to use Office 365, so we are moving email, for example, from on-premises to the cloud. But until June of this year, we mainly used security from Cisco. But we also have antivirus for endpoint protection. We also had Cisco IPS in the past, which was a dedicated appliance for that, but that was discontinued about two years ago. Those are the major products we use currently. In addition — although it's not specifically a security product — we use Cisco ISE here to support our guest network for authentication. We plan, in the near future, to increase the use of Cisco Identity Services Engine. When we start to use that to manage policies and the like, we will probably increase the integration. I know that both products can be integrated and that will be useful for us. There's one other product which we use along with Cisco next-gen which is a SIEM from Splunk. Currently, that is the only integration we have with Cisco. We send logs from next-gen firewalls to the Splunk machine to be analyzed and correlated. Although I'm not involved on a daily basis in operations, I helped in the process of integrating it. It was very easy to integrate and it's a very valuable integration, because we can analyze and correlate all the events from the next-gens from Cisco, along with all the other logs we are collecting in our infrastructure. For example, we also collect logs from the Windows machine that we use to authenticate users. Having those logs correlated on the Splunk box is very valuable. The integration is very easy. I don't know who built what, but there's a kind of add-on on the Splunk that is made for connection to firewalls, or vice versa. The integration is very simple. You just point to the name of the server and a user name to integrate both.
We are using about ten different security tools, including analytics, monitoring, threat management, and email security. What we have integrated is the ISE and FTD but the third-party solutions are not fully integrated.
FTD is pretty good. You can stop new threats very quickly because you can get the threat intelligence deployed to all your IPSs in less than two hours. Cisco works closely with Talos and anything that Talos finds is provided in the threat intelligence of the FTDs if you have the license. It's pretty good to have the Cisco and Talos teams working closely. I know Palo Alto has an similar arrangement, but not a lot of suppliers get that chance. Our organization's security implementation is pretty mature because we try to avoid the false positives and we try to do remediation. We try to put threat intelligence over a link to our IPS next-gen firewalls. Overall, we have too many tools for security in our organization — around a dozen. It's very complicated to integrate all of them. What we have done is to try to use the Elastic Assist Pack over all of them, as a main point of centralization of log information. The number of tools also affects training of teams. There are issues because one tool can't communicate with the another one. It can be very hard, in terms of technical issues and training time, to have everybody using all these processes. We also use Cisco Stealthwatch, although not directly with the FTD, but we hope to make them work together. There is not enough integration between the two products. Overall, FTD is one part of our security strategy. I wouldn't rely only on it because we've got more and more issues coming from the endpoints. It lets you decipher everything but sometimes it is very complicated. We try to use a mix and not rely only on the FTDs. But for sure it's great when you've got a large network, to give you some visibility into your traffic. I rate it at eight out of ten because it's pretty good technology and pretty good at stopping threats, but it still needs some improvement in the management of the new FTD line and in performance.
My advice would be: Don't let the price scare you. I would describe the maturity of our company's security implementation as "working on it." It is an evolving process. When it comes to the Cisco product line, we try to keep it as up to date as possible when they release new products. An example would be their DNA Center which we're looking at installing in the next year. From a product standpoint, we're pretty well off. From a policy and procedure standpoint, that is where we're somewhat lacking in our organization. In terms of the number of security tools our organization uses, we have a lot of them. From a software standpoint, we use tools from eight to 12 vendors, but there is more than one tool from each. We have anywhere from 30 to 40 security suites that we run across our environment. When it comes to hardware manufacturers, Cisco isn't the only one that we use. We use products from three different hardware manufacturers and layer our security that way. The way this number of tools affects our security operations is that there's a lot of overlap. But there are different groups that look at and use each set of tools. It works because that way there are always the checks and balances of one group checking another group's work. Overall it works pretty well. In terms of other products and services we use from Cisco, we're a Cisco shop. We have all of their routing and switching products, AMP for Endpoints for security, Cisco Prime Infrastructure. We also have their voice and whole collab system, their Contact Center. We have their CUCM as well as Unity Connection. A lot of our servers are Cisco UCSs, the Blade Servers are in our environment. We have Fabric Interconnects, fibre switches. Pretty well anything network related is Cisco, in our environment. We do layer it. We do have some F5 firewalls deployed in front of the Ciscos. We have had Barracuda firewalls in line as well, along with spam filters, so that we get that layered security. Cisco's cross-platform integration and data sharing between their products are very key. Cisco is really good at that. It's nice to be able to see the same data through multiple product sets and be able to view that data in different ways. Cisco-to-Cisco is really good. Cisco integration with other products depends on the product and what you're trying to get out of it. Most of it we have to send through different SIEMs to actually get usable data between the two product lines. It depends on what we're doing. Every scenario's a little different. As for automated policy application and enforcement, we actually bought a couple of other tools to do that for us instead. We're getting into Tufin software to do automations, because it seems like they have a little bit better interface, once they pull the Cisco information in. Overall — and I don't want to get too full of Cisco because everyone's vulnerable in a way— we've had very few issues, even when a lot of these Zero-days are attacking cities and organizations, and there are ransomware attacks as well. We've seen items like that hit our network, but not have any effect on it, due to a lot of the Cisco security that's in place. It has been very strong in helping us detect and prevent all of that. Overall, it's given us a certain comfort level, which is both good and bad. It's good because we haven't run into the issues, but it's bad in the sense that our organization, a lot of times, takes it for granted because we haven't run into issues. They tend to overlook security at times.
The neat part about this is how Cisco continues to evolve its product line and help us stay secure, while still doing our day-to-day business. My advice would depend on how you want to use it. What are you looking for Firepower to do? Firepower added features that, until we introduced into our environment, we could not have done. We probably could have added a third-party product but we would hate to keep doing all that. It's nice to be able to have our products from the same organization because then, if something's really wrong, we can talk to the same organization as we're trying to troubleshoot something through our environment. We use Cisco switches, Cisco routers, we use ISE, and Umbrella. We have a lot of products through Cisco. We use the ACLs. We use the intrusion side, just to watch traffic. We have used the malware and have actually caught stuff in there. We do have a DNS policy so that at least we can check to make sure someone's not going to a bogus site; things can get blocked for that, but Umbrella is really good at what it does. We also have it connected to our Active Directory so I can see which users are going where, and that is valuable. But I can also see that in Umbrella, so there's some overlap. For managing the solution it's me and at least one other person. I'm the primary resource on it. We used to use AMP for endpoints through the Firepower but we decided to discontinue that. We have AMP on all our endpoints but with all the other things we have, such as Umbrella, we were satisfied enough with the security we have. We didn't want two different things possibly stopping files instead of having one console area to be able to see those kinds of things. Overall, I would rate Firepower at eight out of ten. Every product can improve. But for what we're looking to do, it does a very good job.
This is a solution that I recommend. The biggest lesson that I have learned from working with this solution is to always update the firewall. If you do not have the latest updates then it will not function well, so always keep it up to date. I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.
I would recommend this solution to someone considering it. I would recommend to study and know what the requirements are exactly. One of the things that might be a problem, or might be a complex thing to do is to go through Cisco Firepower, because Firepower is a software that's complex to explain to somebody. There is the previous ASA code that Cisco had and there is the source file that they acquired. Cisco started to send it as ASA Firepower services. Then they combined the two codes together and they started to send a new code called the Firepower Threat Defense, FTD. Any customer who wants to buy it needs to understand all of these options and what the limitations of each option are, the pros and cons. Any customer who wants to deploy Firepower needs to understand what Cisco has to offer so he can choose correctly. I would rate it a seven out of ten.
If you're really looking into Cisco Firepower, they have a good product, but I would say study hard and look around. If you want an easier product, you can always use Palo Alto. If you are a Cisco guy and you want to be with Cisco, you'll need to get an integration service engineer from the Cisco side. That will actually help you out a lot. Alternatively, maybe you can go for Palo Alto. That would be the best thing to do. If you are not worried about the technical integration part and learning how it works and how well it can go with the environment, I would recommend you go ahead and take an integration engineer with you. Doing a POC could be troublesome for you. We have professional services. You can leverage that. If you do not want to invest much money on all that stuff you can go ahead and hire someone who's already aware. Or if not, you can use any other vendor like Palo Alto.
In my opinion, I would rather ask everyone to have a simple network. If you need multiple networking lines, like for the Cisco ASA or the Firepower NGFW, make sure you have ample tech support. There are many issues with connectivity in firewall systems, but Cisco quality is good. The connectivity of your network can really reduce your complexity over firewalls. I would suggest if you want to configure a complicated network scenario, go for a next-generation firewall. I would also suggest making your firewall options go to Cisco as they have some influential products right now. Once you are pushing the Cisco firewall, you'll be able to actually monitor and confirm each and every traffic coming in or going out of your network. Palo Alto Networks or Juniper Networks firewalls are ideal, slightly better than Cisco. They are not as easy as Cisco to use right now, but considering the cost and everything else, Juniper Networks equipment is really good. The fact is you need to consider just what you're achieving when you put in Cisco firewalls and implement Cisco routers. For those on the verge of a new purchase, I would say that going for an expired model of firewall is definitely a good buy. I would rate the Cisco Firepower NGFW with an eight out of ten points.
I would rate it a nine out of ten. Not a ten because of the horrible initial setup and because you can't handle all operations from one interface. You have to go back into the command line to even be able to type program language, even though you have a graphic user interface for it but it doesn't work properly.
I would rate this solution an eight out of ten. An eight because it's a good security solution. It's more mature than its competitors.
Customers should take note that the migrations steps are not easy. The tools cannot solve all configurations and handle all configurations directly so you will have to do some coding by yourself. The solution is not complete at the moment but it will get better.
I would advise someone considering this solution to subscribe to the URL filtering and to use malware inspection. I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.
I would advise someone considering this solution to just read the release notes before doing anything. You should know what the exact architecture is and what the exact details of the software are before trying to deploy it. I would rate this solution a ten.
We just don't have a lot of the control or customizability that we would like to have over the system. A lot of this has to do with how AT&T is handling the access to it. Also, the hardware is outdated. We would like to go with a product in which everything is very transparent, clear, organized, all in the same place, and we can monitor clearly. The reason that we are looking to change is price: We pay a lot for it. If we had more control over it, we would be better able to control the quality and performance of the network and services, as well as the budget. The most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * IPsec VPN * Good stable connection * Failover support: We need to have dual-WAN, so we can get two WAN connections in there and have failover. * Load balancing would be good, especially for those rough patches. * Internal web filtering and blocking: We need to be able to control what our end users are looking at. * Monitoring: As much monitoring as we can get.
Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * Quality of the product * Cost.
My advice would depend on what your comfort level is. If you have already used Cisco, I would recommend this, to evaluate it at least. Evaluate it and learn how useful it is. It gives good performance, the technology is quite good, sufficient for our objectives, protecting our network, etc. The missing two points are because they have to do make more improvements.
There are other solutions, like Fortigate, which are very good solutions, and cheaper for the customer. Even the support via subscription is favorable, in terms of pricing. I would really advise the customer to do some research first and come up with the best solution for their needs I rate Firepower as an eight out of 10. It is a good solution but it is expensive compared to other products, like Fortigate. Still, some of our customers do prefer Firepower over the others.
I give this solution a seven out of 10. Some of the tools are still a little bit difficult to use.
Cisco is still a very good hardware manufacture, but they need to catch up on the software portion. We used the Cisco product because we know they tried very hard to get back into the market and we were willing to give them a chance since we are still using a lot of Cisco product. For those who are non-Cisco trained, it would be very hard to pick up.